A veteran goes from homeless to general manager

D’Angelo Shaw served 13 years in the U.S. Army but struggled adjusting to civilian life
Published: Nov. 11, 2022 at 1:47 PM EST
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STATESBORO, Ga. (WTOC) - D’Angelo Shaw is the general manager at the Planet Fitness in Statesboro.

A job he has a unique passion for.

“My favorite part is just watching everybody on their journey. Watching everybody push through their journey. Seeing them on a daily basis.”

Maybe D’Angelo is so drawn to the journey of others because his own hasn’t always been an easy one.

“First got in the military straight out of high school,” said Shaw.

Serving in the Army for 13 years, “jumping out of airplanes, getting over my fear of heights. It was very interesting and very exciting.”

But after leaving the military, “I kind of stumbled a little bit, fell off a bit to the point where I didn’t have a job, a place to live, things like that.”

D’Angelo was without home and seemingly without prospects, “you don’t want to have to ask anyone for help or anything like that.”

A struggle Shaw says many veterans deal with.

“It’s one of the things people face on a daily basis, and probably are right now. They have the help, they have the resources, they just don’t want to ask for it.”

While D’Angelo continued to suffer in silence a Planet Fitness Manager took notice.

“He actually reached out to me. He saw me coming to the gym multiple times a day throughout the week and said, ‘you want a job?’”

D’Angelo took the job. At first just cleaning the gym.

But soon enough, “after I learned the system and started to see how everybody does everything at the front desk I asked to be at the front desk. Once I started at the front desk it was just a few months later that I became Assistant Manager,” says Shaw.

Just about two years after he started as a cleaner, he was now general manager.

Which was maybe even a surprise to him.

“I didn’t believe I could do it but that just goes to show anything you put your mind to you can do.”

D’Angelo now using his journey to inspire those around him.

“I started the same way as how I have my staff members start. It’s not like I just jumped into management, I started from where you’re starting in a purple shirt to where I am today. So, anything you put your mind to you can make happen.”

As for his fellow veterans who may be struggling as he once was.

“Don’t wait, reach out. There’s somebody that’s walking around watching and observing you so, you may have that one person that you go up to and talk to that could be the person who turns your life around,” Shaw says.

So, although his journey hasn’t been perfect, it’s his, and most importantly, it’s still not over.

“We have a lot of meeting with corporate, I want to be at that round table. Most people only look two slots up, I want to be at that table.”

D’Angelo has been at PF for about 3 years total. He is also currently working on getting his MBA.